Issues Of Racial Assumption And Stereotypes In The Black Men And Public Space

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The idea of racism started to occur in the 1500’s and it continued to occur throughout the years today. There were races that believed in superiorly over another race or races. There is the unconscious bias floating around even today, there is a prejudice in favor against other people due to skin color. To prove a glimpse of what others experience, writer Staples uses his article “Black Men and Public Space” to discuss the dreadful experience that made him feel the sting of disrespect and unjust treatment. Staples experienced individual racism, which occurs when a person’s beliefs, attitudes, and actions are based on biases, stereotypes, or prejudices against another race. Staples used different settings of experiences where he was treated unreasonably to make the claim that racial stereotypes force individuals to change their behavior to alter how they are perceived by others. Throughout the article Staples uses a very dispiriting tone to emphasize how people of the world today are still making racial assumptions, with including a despondent appeal such as pathos to incorporate by point proving. Even though not all individuals are judgmental and critical, illiberality will perpetually occur throughout life. People of color has experienced inequity, condemnatory, and suffering due to just appearance.

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Staples begins the article with a story of his first encounter with a white woman that expressed deep fear towards him. He continues to give different stories and settings of encounters with people fearing him and viewing him as a threatening person or criminal. The main point of Staples giving stories of different settings repeatedly is to make his main point that there is way too much judgment in the world on colored people. He is holding an argument under the table that not every black man is out to hurt others or scare others. He is simply stating that he is a good, successful man that does not deserve illiberal treatment from others simply due to skin color. Attributing to the circumstances he has dealt with he changed his lifestyle and personal appearance to circumvent fear in others from him. 

The author is making the claim that those who are racist are forcing those of colors to change their behavior is change the way they are perceived by others. The author concludes his essay with: “And, on late-evening constitutionals I employ what has proved to be an excellent tension- reducing measure: I whistle melodies from Beethoven and Vivaldi and the more popular classical composers. Even steely New Yorkers hunching toward nighttime destinations seem to relax, and occasionally they even join in the tune”. The author continues to change small aspects of his lifestyle to give a more appealing appearance to those who are racial stereotypes. Staples concludes the article by saying: “Over the years I learned to smother the rage I felt at so often being taken for a criminal. Not to do so would surely have led to madness. I now take precautions to make myself less threatening. I move about with care, particularly late in the evening I give a wide berth to nervous people on subway platforms during the wee hours, particularly when I have exchanged business clothes or jeans”. Staples had to learn from his experiences to change the way he acts in public. He learned that if he doesn’t act the way racial stereotypes want him to, or seem him to it will end up in an unpleasant conclusion. He also figured and concluded that he must change his lifestyle for his own good. Overall the author is using his emotional experiences to help the readers grasp onto the burden he had felt.

Staples also makes the claim that racial assumptions is still a reoccurring factor in many people’s lives, including Staples. It puts a negative effect on those who are colored and don’t even plan on hurting or putting fear in others. Staples experienced an instance where he felt like a criminal: “It was in the echo of that terrified woman’s footfalls that I first began to know the unwieldy inheritance I’d come into – the ability to alter public space in ugly ways. It was clear that she thought herself the quarry of a mugger, a rapist. Suffering a bout of insomnia, however, I was stalking sleep, not defenseless wayfarers. As softly who is scarcely able to take a knife to a raw chicken – let alone hold one to a person’s throat – I was surprised, embarrassed, and dismayed all at once. Her flight made me feel like an accomplice in tyranny”. Staples first experience with a racial stereotype changed his life ever since. He didn’t know he seemed like a criminal to others up until he experienced such dreadful fear from someone. Staples tries to make the point of his innocence and his intentions not to hurt anyone by listing how he is afraid to take a knife to a raw chicken. Staples gives another interaction where he was viewed as a criminal: “the most frightening of these confusions occurred in the late 1970’s wand early 1980’s, when I worked for a journalist in Chicago. One day, rushing into the office of a magazine I was writing for with a deadline story in hand. I was mistaken as a burglar. The office manager called security and, with an ad hoc-posse, pursued me through the labyrinthine halls, nearly to my editor’s door. I had no way of proving who I was. I could only move briskly toward the company of someone who knew me”. This perfectly fits the claim of Staples, people have too many racial assumptions. In the tone of this passage you can sense such a desperate tone from him, this goes back to the fact Staples needs to change small aspects of the way he is to not seem threatening.

Brent Staples uses his essay “Black Men and Public Space” to share out his interactions with racial assumptions that caused him to change his life, and change small and big aspects of his life. In the beginning of the essay he starts off by listing different setting of interactions where racism had occurred and is written to get a glimpse of what he had experienced and what it had done to his life and the way it made the author feel. Through the essay the author started to share for experiences where he had encounter more harsh responses from racial stereotypes and had progressively learned how to change his behavior towards racial stereo types. Staples learned: “Over the years, I learned to smother the rage I felt at so often being taken for a criminal”. The author did well with pulling in the reader to also experience a glimpse of the terror he had felt, but the author did not leave an uplifting solution to his cases. He is letting the racial stereotypes control his natural behavior, but again claims under the table he is being the bigger person. This essay can help people understand the intense issues of racial assumption and stereotypes in this world and can help make a difference; so, others may not have to experience the cruel sensation Staples had felt and let change his life. 

01 July 2021

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